2. EXPLANATORY NOTES,
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Raphael (words at the cemetery)
After some time has passed, I'm writing you a few lines. Over there in a suburb of Tel Aviv, on the eve of the last elections, I tried to stop the war. The horror strode ahead of me like a horseman before the plague. And it came, the war, and with it the grief and the distress. The poem I wrote, the words, what are they as against all this?
To you and yours, in companionship
I?ll tell you about Yaron, the child ? experiences, scenes, events.
I see Yaron, I see him, because one can't express his name without his likeness appearing, alive and sparkling with the naughty mischievous look, and always in real situations, interwoven into life itself. One can't think about him in abstract terms, and talk of 'remembering him'.
I see-him in my eye's mind, a child full of life, active and brimming over, alert and always examining and demanding, wanting to know and understand over and above what is possible to explain in words. Pictures pass over my eyes, mingling with the pageant of the children's lives -Yaron within them, but so singular and special in his group and simultaneously putting his stamp on it to such an extent that it is hard to see Yaron outside the context of the group.
We are hiking in the area of Ein Dor, in places known only to us or rather places to which we attribute special significance and importance, mixed with much imagination until it appeared to us that they were discovered by us, that we discovered them and it is we who named them. Who doesn't remember 'The Quill Hill' facing the Tabor to which we would make a pilgrimage before every New Year? And 'Porcupine Valley'? And the 'Ravine of the Elephants'? Where are we hiking today?" Yaron asks, ready to jump off with the first to go. I make it difficult: "Today we're going in a south-easterly direction from here". Yaron, still a child in the kindergarten, embarrassed by such a complex answer is forced to delay his curiosity and to accept the goal, full of tension, for actually what is the importance of the target - endless goals await us on the way, no less exciting..
The group has many collectors - collectors of plants, stones, fossils, 'dry items' and 'animals'. Yaron is among the champion collectors, but he doesn't merely collect he investigates with all his senses, looks and gropes, sniffs, tastes. We liked to taste the plants we found in nature. So it was that we discovered that the 'Shomar' eases thirst and gives a good taste in the mouth. We ate Chubeza and chewed the soft stalks of thistle and briar.
Another picture passes my eyes, and amazingly, I'm once again in the lap of nature, which Yaron loved so much. We're sitting in the lap of an old oak tree, the big oak with the branch above the water installation at the dam. We sit crowded together and united. I see Yaron full of interest and importance for we have to choose a name for the group.
Almost 'miraculously' there came up the name 'Kvutsat Alon', the 'oak Kvutsa', with Yaron among the enthusiastic supporters of the suggestion, possibly because of the desire to belong to the family tree of names of children's groups from the world of planter vine, pine, pomegranate, cedar and now oak - the name of a group which didn't undergo changes with the with the vagaries of time up to this very day - and Alon is one of the deeply-rooted oaks in the group. Since then we have adopted the two young oaks which were planted not long ago opposite the dining hall.
Today they have put down deep roots and grew broad tree-tops. I pass them day by day, large and tough, and think of the love and care with which we have nurtured them and a troublesome question haunts me:
How did it happen that one oak among us was cut down in its prime?
Yaron, I never wrote you a letter. But nowadays in my thoughts I write you thousands of letter. We are both sons of the same family, Kvutsat 'Alon', in which we grew and were educated together over the years.
To write to you, Yaron, in the knowledge that you'll never read this letter, bringing on such melancholy. Its so hard to speak and write to you in the past tense.
Yaron, I still see you in uniform, with your briefcase and rifle, ascending the steps of our newly built house for kibbutz soldiers.
I see you take off the uniform and go down to the basketball court. I'm sitting and listening now to the music you loved. I'm listening to Graham Nash and Meir Ariel with ?A song of pain?, and the pain returns and hits me.
Yaron, don't be angry with me for crying. It's so awful for me to sit here without seeing you by my side. You know that from your beautiful poems I got a message which entered my heart and the hearts of all Of us: that now is the time and its never too late to try and be a better person - that people should be more honest, that people will listen and pay attention. Listen and understand, understand and relate to each other and no longer kill each other. That is our task and the task of all of humanity, and its so important to me that this dream of yours will be realized as soon as possible.
Yaron, there's a lot more things I want-to tell you: On our lovely garden which is now flowering. On the red water melons which you liked so much and which are now in season. And also on the records which are reaching the market these days. On the children in the 'Aviv' kindergarten, on our friends from the group and from the kibbutz. Now its late and night is descending and the darkness comes between us.
Yaron, my dear brother - I'll long for you and love you always, all my life
We would listen together to much music which he loved, he always liked to listen on my stereo. Mainly cassettes. There were a number which he always came to hear - Graham Nash, Meir Ariel, and one can't forget how much he enjoyed them. Sometimes he would take the guitar and beat on it as if it were a drum. He would dance and let himself go. Occasionally he'd just knock on something for variety's sake, and always draw my attention to the words of the songs. He would sing the song gustily as if he wanted the whole world to hear the song he liked so much.
Yaron, as my neighbor, was full of vigor and energy. And when he'd come back from the army, he'd enter my room red and sweating all over. The room would at once be filled with music, noise and great movement. In a jiffy he'd change into civilian clothes and then he'd go about his business, whatever it might be.
A week before his death, we sang 'Evening over Gilead' by Arik Einstein as a duet. It was an unforgettable experience - the first and last time that we sang in two voices, a real delight. Now one voice is silent. For ever. And his presence, so outstanding, has left me, abandoning me to an empty void, silent, frightening, causing me to sit on the bed, hold the words of the song which he loved so much, to listen and close my eyes and weep!
I would come in the morning, go through the rooms, say 'good morning' and put on the light - I would almost always tarry by Yaron's bed, something which hurt or worried him a little and a word of understanding on my part, then everything was ok..
Yaron was tidy and clean, with a closed cupboard of goodies by his bed. Under the bed he had a sack of sunflower seeds and a box of apples, so he'd be ready for everything..
Yaron loved activities, liked to prepare things for the group, especially in high school. To accept responsibility, to be in the center of things. -
Yaron had another love, something special. He liked to play tricks on the people in his group and get under their skins to the extent that it was sometimes hard to take. In particular he would put on an act in group discussions, or simply when he met people in the corridor, imitating the others.. so that even those he was taking off couldn't stop laughing. Some group discussions were interrupted and broken up by this...and even though I personally was extremely angry, I couldn't resist the temptation and found myself bursting with laughter.
The contact wasn't so strong in the more recent period, we grew apart somewhat but that look remained, that smile, that greeting and those few words.. a stroke of the head and that was that.
And he is no more...
Nissim, who arrived just as Yaron started to run, joined him at once in order to ?draw? him on. Yaron completed the course in less that 7 minutes and won the bet. I remember that when he finished the run, he was as white as chalk from the magnitude of the effort.
Afterwards when everyone had recovered, we decided to mark the event with a cold drink We sat in my garden under the margosa tree. The sun began to set in the west, dusk, quiet Shabbat music came from the radio. Yaron, who had disappeared for a moment, reappeared smiling, carrying in his hands an enormous cold water melon.
It doesn't matter if it was in the fields, in the office, on the lawn or in the dining hall. Whenever some ideological discussion got under way, or when people were merely gossiping for gossip's sake - in telling description, linguistic dialectics or a joke which hit home - his was always the last word.
And in these days, when the head is splitting from uncertainty and the discussions on the situation are endless, how appropriate would be a sentence or a joke by Yaron.
We will continue his life and we'll go on discussing the problems of the world and of this particular hour. Yaron, your image will appear from time to time but we will never know what you would have said for your ideas are now yours and only yours, Yaron
To speak 'about Yaron' is the last thing I dreamed of doing. I was always happy to meet you on the sidewalk, to chat about what you were doing and how you felt. I moved my hand around your closely cut head, you told a little of the army, of plans for the future.
To speak about you with your parents, with friends, and you will never again be there - that is the last thing I wanted to do.
I don't remember exactly when the friendship between us started. Maybe when you wanted to go to the army and you came to consult with me about the unit in which I served. You wanted something serious, some patrol unit, and you came to talk to me among others. You postponed your mobilization and in the end failed because of back problems - but you are not the one to allow simple problems like these to block your plans for a select patrol unit and it was then you turned to Golani.
About half a year ago I got a letter from you. It was written in rich and beautiful language, a real pleasure to read. You wrote that you were grappling with the problem of going to a young kibbutz after the army. You asked me, as a friend, if I'd recommend you go to Natur and if its possible already to go there as a soldier on leaves and Saturdays, and to start at this stage to make contact when you still have another year to serve in the army.
You told me that the idea of going to a young kibbutz has been accompanying you since the age of seven, when you went to visit Gilad in Kerem Shalom.
You very much liked this way of life. You said it was very good at home. Yet one is spoiled, one comes back from the army to a warm home, to a cake, coffee and clean laundry. But what is missing is more serious talks with friends. You are a bit fed up of the way people jar on each other, the little sting one gets, when sitting on the veranda on Saturday. That's what you wrote.
I was so happy that you'd come to us in Natur. We summed up in the Secretariat about your being adopted and you denied the importance which we attached to this. You said one didn't need to decide on this in such seriousness.
You came for a week on your last regular leave. You worked planting new cypress trees in the plantation. You were quickly accepted, without barriers, without shyness. You always knew how to fall firmly on your own two feet.
I was very surprised by the sharp eye you had for people - on your second day you already told me who everybody was and what are their character traits. You hit the target in dead center. I couldn't believe it. After work, when we'd get ready for an afternoon sleep, you found partners for a hike in the neighborhood, for a game of basketball, for a short run. You were all energy and movement.
After a visit to our room, you informed us that we had only one good record in the room (out of 40) and its by Chava Alberstein. I was afraid that when we leave Natur you won't have anyone to come to but you always smiled and said it was very sweet that I worry, but you don?t have any problems in this respect. Once you called in the evening that you are an a training exercise on the Heights and we should come to get you at a certain place. You came with another friend from the unit -hungry and dirty. I sat with you in the dining hall, while you prepared the biggest salad, cut into the smallest pieces, that I have ever seen. With such patience you filled a giant dish and I didn't believe that you could finish off such an amount,
The next day you stayed to work. I didn't manage to hear from you if you felt good in Natur, if you liked it. It is only now that your father said you were very impressed by the place. And this makes me very happy.
Yaron - I was always proud that there is a continuity of Ein Dor in Natur. I was always happy to meet you at home - that sort of direct contact which you knew how to build. I long for you and remember you with the utmost affection.
Next page Friend's Writings Part 2